Game 1 

 Game 2 






Wednesday, October 11th—NLCS Game 1 @ New York: ppd
It's nice to have had a couple of days off. I've been basking in the euphoria of the playoff clincher, recovering from that craziness, and trying to catch up with my responsibilities. Nana mailed us Monday's newspaper, and that's the only thing I've read or heard about anything the past two plus days. Today I teach, run, and get everything done that I need to do tonight so I can watch the game. I flip on the TV about 6:30, and FOX is showing a Seinfeld rerun instead of the pregame. I check the TV listings and then the internet, and the front-page story on notifies me that tonight's game has been rained out. Oh, great. Now what am I going to do, work? Yeah right.

The other bummer is that now I'm going to have to miss significant amounts of games 1 and 2. Tomorrow night is our ballroom dance class, and I've scheduled a Youth activity for Friday. (Of course, I scheduled it knowing that it was the NLCS travel day. Not anymore.) The rainout also pushes back game 3 in St. Louis from a day game to a night game, to allow at least some travel time. I send an email to Nana letting her know the schedule change. She seems to appreciate updates, since she's not as up-to-the minute on the internet as I am. So I just thought I'd be nice and let her know. You know, as a good family member. Alright, fine...of course I was also angling for a ticket. I tell Nana about our long weekend plans downstate: "I know you have lots of people you'd like to take to the games. If any tickets are left, give me a holler and I'll be in your driveway in an hour. :)"

Thursday, October 12th—NLCS Game 1 @ New York: Mets 2, Cardinals 0
OK, this time the game is on. I have not had much time to spend thinking about the Cardinals, knowing that I needed to get things done so I could watch them. There's no score before we have to leave for dance class. I hit record on our DVD-R. We have a nice hour of practice and I'm not too distracted by knowing the game is on.

We get back and it's 2-0 Mets. I rewind the disc a bit and see that Beltran hit a 2-run shot in the 6th. Darn. Weaver pitched really well, too, but we couldn't get anything going offensively. Mets win 2-0. Still, it's encouraging that Weaver held them in check like that. As a Cards fan, it's somewhat of a sigh of relief that the Mets didn't completely knock around our #3 starter. And they can't pitch Glavine every night. Plus, because of the rainout, we've got Carpenter tomorrow. So we do have a chance in the series, right?

Friday, October 13th—NLCS Game 2 @ New York: Cardinals 9, Mets 6
It's Chocolate Night with the Youth. I scheduled it a couple of weeks ago with Janice from church, who wants the youth to help out for the bake sale. So she's going to teach them to make chocolates. It's a neat idea, but I certainly wouldn't prioritize it ahead of NLCS game 2 if I had a choice. Oh well. The best laid plans...

Of course I have the game recording, and after getting everything cleaned up at church, I decide that it's too late to try to "catch up" to live action. So I'll find out what's going on and then go back for the highlights. I click on the radio while driving home and it's in the top of the 7th inning. I gather that Pujols is on base and Edmonds is up. It's a good at bat by Jimmy, going through a lot of pitches. During the at-bat, I learn that the Cards were down a lot but have pulled closer and now trail only 6-4. I pull in to the garage as he is walked. I run in to the TV and Spiezio is up. I tell Christine (without really saying hi) "how about one of those patented bases-clearing triples right here." He rips the ball down the line. Shawn Green is going for it, and...I think it's a home run! Albert and Jimmy score!

I love how Jimmy does the jump rotation after scoring. But that's gotta be a home run, right? No, the umps got it right. Amazingly the ball did not go over the fence: Green hit it with his glove, and it bounced off the top of the wall back in play. But guess what that means...he delivered the triple! I called it! Is this guy clutch or what? He ends up stranded on third, but hey, tied up—that's huge.

There's no scoring the next couple of innings. After the bullpen gets Beltran to hit into a clutch double play, it's still tied going into the 9th. So Taguchi—mister defensive substitution—leads off the inning. The Mets bring in their closer Billy Wagner—it's going to be tough against such a dominant pitcher. Taguchi works the count full, and fouls off a bunch of pitches. Announcer Luis Gonzalez says, "[Wagner] has to come right after him—you can't afford to walk him with Pujols on deck." Then So gets ahold of one...OMIGOSH! It's gone!! Lightning strikes twice! So Taguchi has 2 at-bats this postseason, and 2 homers! I jump up and run around the living room. In fact, I slightly twist my ankle during my shocked celebration. Oh well, it's definitely worth it. This is the Cards' first lead all series!


Then the Cards start to pile it on against Wagner. More Albert, more Spiezio. Even Juan Encarnacion gets in on the act. This is their big closer—man, we've got this guy figured out! Wagner gets taken out after giving up 3 runs in the ninth inning, So it's 9-6! Sweet. In the bottom of the 9th, defensive replacement Rolen makes a great play and is out to prove something on the throw, smoking it with the runner out by 4 steps. Wainwright shuts the door, and the Cards have evened the series at 1-1.


What a comeback against the Mets' vaunted bullpen! This is the first time since June that the Mets lost when leading after the 6th inning. So there are now three guaranteed games in St. Louis. I call Nana to celebrate the Cards win, and of course to scope out the possibility of going to any games. She's mum about it, but it doesn't seem like she has 9 people lined up for all three games.

Saturday, October 14th—NLCS Game 3: Cardinals 5, Mets 0
Christine and I pack for a weekend trip to Bloomington-Normal. The reason for this trip is motivated largely by the outside possibility of getting a "standby" seat to a game with Nana. I also have my friend Jing all set to sub for me on Monday—the day of game 5—"just in case." Christine asks how many days to pack for, and I suggest four days worth, because you never know what might happen—just look at last weekend.

We drive to Bloomington-Normal in the afternoon. Shortly after we arrive, we hear that the Tigers completed their sweep of the A's in dramatic fashion.
Wow, the ALCS is over and the NLCS is 1-1. Great, not only does the AL get home field again, but now they'll be able to totally set their rotation. Oh well, first things first.

There's no word from Nana, so we watch the game on TV with my Mom (Dad is out of town at a conference or something, I forget). This is a fun game. The Mets pitcher is Steve Trachsel, who does not strike fear into fans of the opposing team. He is shaky from the outset, as the Cards pounce on him for two in the first inning. Scott Spiezio continues his torrid timely hitting, with another 2-run triple, just like yesterday! You talk about clutch: his career average in the postseason with runners in scoring position is a ridiculous .700!

And Jeff Suppan absolutely dominatesmdash;not only on the mound, but also at the plate with a homer! He actually outscores the Mets all by himself. Trachsel gets hit hard, both figuratively and then literally, when Preston Wilson lines the ball off his thigh. It almost seems merciful, because it gives another reason for Trachsel to be taken out of the game after giving up 5 runs with nobody out in the second inning.

Wow, this is fun. Going back to the 7th inning last night, the Cardinals have outscored the Mets 10-0 in just a 5-inning span!

The rest of the game is mostly uneventful, and 5-0 is the final. The Cards have now taken control of the series. I love watching the surprised analysis on Baseball Tonight. And I'm really digging that "Pressure, Pressure" song that they keep playing on the show. And one bonus of watching these games in Bloomington-Normal is that here they get FOX Sports Midwest (the St. Louis area coverage) in addition to Chicagoland's Comcast Sports that we get. So I can watch extended, Cardinals-biased postgame coverage. Nice! They interview Eckstein after the game and ask him, "So Taguchi hit a homer yesterday, then Jeff Suppan today...when's yours?" Eck smiles and says "mine went foul," referring to a ball he pulled severely foul during the game.

It is amazing how quietly the Mets' bats have gone down. They've only scored 8 runs in the three games so far, and 6 of them came in their game 2 loss. They certainly look beatable, but of course there's still a ways to go.

Sunday, October 15th—NLCS Game 4: Mets 12, Cardinals 5
Christine and I watch with Mom and Dad, and Mark also comes over. Alright, THIS is what I was afraid of. Reyes is shaky, though he gets through 4 innings allowing only 2 runs. But the bullpen gets tenderized by the Mets' bats. Oh man, Beltran and Delgado. Ouch. We just can't get outs in their lineup. It reminds me of facing the Red Sox lineup in '04, a performance no Cardinal fan wants to see resembled. At least there are a few fun moments for the Cards, as Yadi homers and even Eckstein goes yard, proving last night's interviewer prophetic. And Jimmy makes a great catch, crashes into the wall and holds his shoulder afterwards. But immediately he comes to bat and also hits a homer. Tim McCarver says, "Guess his shoulder's OK." But it is way too little, too late.


I call Nana to commiserate and to inquire about the game 5 ticket status. It turns out that she didn't go tonight (she gave her tickets to friends) and doesn't have anyone to take the last ticket for tomorrow night. I remind her that I have a sub setup for tomorrow. And since I don't teach Tuesday anyway, this time I'll at least have a travel day between the game and teaching. She softly and uncertainly proposes, "So you wanna go?" YES!!! After I thank her profusely, I announce my good fortune to my family. The evening has taken a turn for the better...

Monday, October 16th—NLCS Game 5: ppd
I do a little bit of lesson prep, skip my run, and I get my gear on. I think my goatee is long enough now that I can do something with it. Of course, Spiezio might not be playing, but that doesn't matter. It's not the player so much as it is "the look." So I shave all but a soul patch and Mom picks up some red dye at the store. I bolt to Springfield so I can get there with enough time to get my look ready. On the drive down, though, it is pouring rain. All the talk on the radio is about the uncertainty of the game being played. Still, we're going to follow our plan until we hear that the game is officially canceled. I get to Nana's and get my chin ready. She tells me that the Brandt's guy has again given her the four Brandt's seats! (Dude, even the NLCS isn't good enough for you?) Hey, we'll use 'em!

So it's back in the Limo. Man, I could get used to this! (But don't worry, I won't.) This time it's me, Nana, Carol, Linda, Fred, Melody, Greg, and JoAnn. Linda keeps in contact with people via cell phone to make sure the game is still on. We all discuss the pitching matchup—both Glavine and Weaver have to go on short rest. That possibly could be an advantage for the Cardinals given Glavine's age. But as we're nearing Litchfield or Carlinville, Linda gets a call with news that the game is canceled. So we notify the driver and turn around. Nana says she's not going to give the Brandt's tickets back—we'll do it again tomorrow.

We get back to Springfield and I drive the hour back up to Mom & Dad's. Looks like we'll be staying another night. So much for my "travel day" between the game and my Wednesday class. Christine is so awesome. She is happy to accomodate me, even though it means another day to get by without her food and everything she needs at home. But we knew something strange might happen when we planned this trip. After all, it's October: October is different.

Tuesday, October 17th—NLCS Game 5: Cardinals 4, Mets 2
Take two. I repeat the process and get my Spiezio doo ready. I make it thinner today, which is both better looking and a better imitation. This time, Carol brings pizza for the Limo ride. This is just getting better and better! We're pumped for the game, because we know they won't cancel this one. Both pitchers are fully rested now, so no excuses. I take some artistic shots in the limo. On the ride, Nana says she wants me to sit with her in the Brandt's seats for the whole game! Omigosh, this is going to be awesome...

We arrive at the game and go down to the sweet seats. This time I don't have to move before the game begins. Man, this is huge. The dream continues. Being at a playoff game last week was great, but I didn't dream as a kid of going to NLDS games, because the NLDS didn't exist. But the NLCS. My best baseball memories were from the NLCS: '85 against the Dodgers and '87 against the Giants. The NLCS is the highest level I've ever seen the Cards win. I keep looking at the rotating NLCS graphics. Here I am. And in these seats!

These seats are so fantastic, we're in the same area as the Mets front office!

Even someone who wasn't a Cardinals or Mets fan would love this matchup: watching Tom Glavine in the postseason from just behind the radar gun seats. Glavine is one of the all-time great postseason pitchers. Plus, he might possibly be the last 300 game winner, which would put him as the pitching analog of Ted Williams, the last .400 hitter.

David Eckstein leads off with a hit off Glavine, and steals second base. But he is stranded, and the Cards can't do much through three innings. The 4th inning begins ominously, as there is a problem with first base.
They get it fixed, but then the Mets break through against Weaver for 2 runs. That makes it uncomfortable with Glavine out there. In the bottom of the 4th, Pujols comes up with one out. Glavine got him the first time. Wow, what a matchup: Glavine vs. Pujols in the playoffs. Who knows how much larger this matchup will look from Cooperstown in twenty years? Albert works the count to 2-2. Then he blasts one to left center! I stand up immediately thinking it's gone. But the fielder keeps going back like he might have a play...does he? No! It's gone!! That is the first major-league home run I've seen from this vantage point, and it certainly adds to my appreciation for how difficult it is to hit one. I mean, I thought he absolutely crushed that ball, but it landed just a few rows into the seats. Makes me wonder what his homer in last year's NLCS game 5 (one year ago today, in fact) looked like from seats this close.

We needed Albert to break the ice off Glavine. It's a lift for the whole team, and now everyone starts taking better at-bats. Rolen walks, then Jimmy gets a hit. Belliard singles, and we're tied! Glavine's pitch count is getting up there. They have a meeting on the mound, and then Glavine walks Yadi! Unfortunately this brings up Weaver, who grounds out. But how about that...the Cards immediately responded to the Mets getting on the board first. That reminds me of last time I was here, in game 4 of the NLDS. The Cards got 2 runs in the bottom of the first after the Padres got 2 opening the game off Carpenter. It seems like the Cards have done that a lot this postseason.

Then in the 5th, Eckstein leads off with a hit on the first pitch. Immediately Preston Wilson drives the ball to right...that's gonna score Eckstein! Cards lead 3-2!! Yeeaaahh!! Glavine intentionally walks Albert and then is taken out of the game! The Mets bring in Chad Bradford. Have you seen this guy pitch? In case you haven't, I took a picture for you...
OK, so I'm not that great a photographer. But you can see he is almost scraping the dirt when he throws! He allows a single to Encarnacion to load the bases with nobody out, then gets Scott Rolen to strike out. They bring in the lefty Feliciano, who gets Jimmy to ground into a force play at home. Then Ronnie Belliard flies out, and the Cards really blew a chance to open up this game. But at least we've got the lead.

In the 6th, Chris Duncan bats for Weaver. He works the count full, then rips a HOMER to right field!! 4-2 Cards!! That is definitely a nice insurance run.

The Cards bullpen is back to being lights-out after Sunday's debacle. After a 1-2-3 seventh, Josh Kinney gets into trouble in the 8th. The Mets have guys on second and third with one out. But Randy Flores gets Shawn Green to hit a shallow fly ball, not deep enough to score the run. And Tony decides to go to the closer right now. Adam Wainwright comes in and shuts the door on the 8th, striking out Jose Valentin. He then mows down the Mets 1-2-3 in the ninth, finishing it with a strikeout of Jose Reyes! Cards win!!

The streets are loaded with pumped fans. We get back in the Limo, and it's a party atmosphere like last Sunday. We're up 3 games to 2, and we've got Carpenter going tomorrow night. The clock strikes midnight during the ride, and I say, "Tonight the Cardinals could be National League Champions." We joke about asking the driver just to drive straight to New York.

We get back late, and then I drive up to Bloomington-Normal, sneaking in around 2:00am. Still, I'm so wired that I watch highlights and edit the DVD before heading to bed. I name this game "Dream Weaver."

Wednesday, October 18th—NLCS Game 6 @ New York: Mets 4, Cardinals 2
After a few hours sleep, we drive up all the way to Chicago. I put the finishing touches on my lesson plan in the car ride. On the way, the song Crazy by Gnarls Barkley is all over the radio. How appropriate for all this craziness—it love it. Christine drops me off again, but this time I have made sure to change my shirt in the car before we get to campus. I hustle in, have office hours, eat, look over my lesson, and teach. Then I run to the train and get home with barely enough time to try to get a run in before the game starts. But Christine is not feeling well and wants me to go get her some food at the store. My head is spinning from this whirlwind, so I initially say I can't do it. But after a moment of perspective, I realize what my priorities really are. So I make the store trip and cut my run to two quick miles. I get in and turn on the game just before the first pitch. I listen to the lineups and watch Eckstein dig in while shuffling together some dinner. I haven't even showered yet. I can't believe these guys were where I was last night and are ready to play after traveling to New York. I feel like I'm not really mentally ready to watch yet, and these guys are playing!

That is one thing that is a slight bummer about this circus I've taken part in—I can't reflect and enjoy this playoff run as much as I would normally, especially as much as I would have as a kid. Back during those NLCSes in grade school, I'd spend all day dreaming about the previous game and planning scenarios for that night's game. Then I'd come home after school and comb the newspaper or Dad's latest Sports Illustrated for every morsel of Cardinals coverage. The travel days were days I wouldn't be as nervous, but those nights I'd be anxious for the series to resume. And I certainly would never miss a minute of the pregame show. But now I've got all these other responsibilities plus all this travel, and when I need a travel day, there isn't one. It is a crazy adventure, and certainly a unique experience for me. I definitely feel like I'm a part of it. So even though I haven't been able to spend time visualizing Chris Carpenter mowing down the Mets or Pujols crushing the spirits of New Yorkers, I'll take it.

Carp starts off poorly, giving up a homer to the Mets' first batter of the game, Jose Reyes. He settles down after that, but the Mets add a tally in the 4th. Meanwhile, the Cardinals offense is completely stymied by John Maine. That is disappointing, and now it really doesn't look good. The Cardinals bullpen takes over in the seventh and the Mets promptly add 2 huge runs with two outs.These are by the way the first 2-out runs the Cards bullpen has given up this postseason, and here we are in our 10th game. But yeah, it seems that the Mets have taken control.

The Cards offense does wake up in the 9th inning. Encarnacion singles and Rolen doubles—hey, nice little rally... But Belliard and Yadi get out without advancing the runners, so it's up to So Taguchi with two outs. He doubles, scoring two runs! So clutch...again off Wagner! But four runs with two outs is too much too ask, as Eckstein grounds out. Still, it feels good that the Cards once again broke through on the Mets bullpen. Again, we responded and didn't go down without a fight. In fact, the Cards have scored last in every game this series except the shutout in game 1. Taguchi's contribution reminds me of the first playoff game I was at—game 3 of the NLDS. His homer then was the last run of that game, even though we lost. So maybe we can win tomorrow night like we did in game 4 against the Padres.

...That's me being ultra-positive. Really, I think we're toast: there are some huge differences now than that Padres series. Not only are the Mets a much better team than the Padres, but after that game 3 loss to the Pads, we were both at home the next night and had Carpenter going. Here, the Mets just beat Carpenter. And then there's this little matter of history. In a postseason series, a road team up 3 games to 2 that loses game 6 just does not win game 7 on the road. My historical instinct tells me that. So I do some research, and I confirm my suspicions. This is the 38th year of the League Championship Series. Thus counting the Tigers sweep last week, there have been 75 total ALCSes and NLCSes. Most of course don't go seven games, but for those that do the home team wins heavily more than the road team. In addition, every road team that has won a 7-game series has also won game 6—for example, the Red Sox over the Yankees in '04. But EVERY time the road team loses game 6, it loses game 7 also—for example, the Astros losing to the Cards in '04 after leading 3 games to 2. Home teams can get away with losing game 6—like the Yankees over the Red Sox in '03—but not road teams.

Of course baseball history is rich, so there's almost nothing that's never happened. Though the road team has never overcome a game 6 loss in an LCS, it has in World Series history: most recently and famously, the Big Red Machine overcame Carlton Fisk waving it fair in Game 6, and came back to win game 7 of the '75 Series at Fenway.
I remember that Series fondly. I had been conceived about a month before, and I watched that Game 6 from the womb when Mom accidentally swallowed a piece of tin foil while eating a burrito. I used it to get a signal, and stayed up late to see the end of the game. After that fantastic finish, all day the next day I imitated his motion by wiggling my two protruding cells: right, right, and up. Then I sort of forgot about baseball when I started growing legs.

OK, clearly some sort of baseball-depression-created dimentia has creeped in. After this research, I know we're going to lose tomorrow. Of course I'm still a fan and I'm going to watch, but we are going to lose. The Mets bats will probably wake up like the Braves' did against the Cards in game 7 of the '96 NLCS. Or even if that doesn't happen, they have the last at bat and will find a way to win. They just beat Carpenter, and they're at home. I have a need to communicate my findings to someone. But there's nobody around who can truly appreciate these stark facts and understand what I'm going through as a fan. So I call Dad. He loves sharing and listening to useless facts like this, so he's the perfect person to talk to. Plus, he emphasizes to me that he's going for the Cardinals. I appreciate the support. Of course, hating the Mets is one thing we have in common, and have had in common since the mid-80's. It's good to talk to him; he is much more positive than I am about the Cards' chances. Alright, well I guess we'll see.

Thursday, October 19th—NLCS Game 7 @ New York: Cardinals 3, Mets 1
I don't teach today, so I get a little bit of a chance to think about the game. Of course, today the time is spent second-guessing and worrying, whereas yesterday it would have been spent basking and dreaming.

I do get to watch the pregame tonight, and FOX does a pretty good job of making it sound like the Cards have a chance. Of course they'll do that, they want good ratings. But think about how Red Sox fans felt exactly twenty years ago in this very stadium when they lost Game 6 of the World Series. Technically, there's a chance, but really, we know better. Maybe the Cards could jump out to a huge lead like the Red Sox did against the Yankees in game 7 two years ago. Then we'd have a chance.

OK, game time.

The Mets strike first in the bottom of the first, but again the Cards strike right back in the top of the 2nd. Jimmy singles and Yadi moves him to third with a hit. On a 1-1 count, Ronnie Belliard lays down the squeeze, and Edmonds scores! So it's all tied up at 1-1. It remains this way for several innings. In the 6th, Edmonds gets on. Then Rolen turns on an inside fastball!
I jump out of my seat...that might be! In the split second of thought as the ball is in the air, I don't like how Chavez is still sprinting after it. But he's at the wall and...omigosh. You are kidding me.
Not only does he make the catch, but he also brings the ball back in to double up Jimmy off first to end the inning. OK, just in case there was any doubt in my mind about us losing, that doubt is now removed. In truth, I still have hope buried deep—it's never over until the final out. But at this point I believe that I am watching the Cardinal fan version of the Hindenburg flight.

In the bottom of the 6th, I can see that my fears are coming true. A walk and then a huge error by Rolen, throwing the ball into the seats. This is it. This is where the blimp blows up. This is where the Cards season will effectively end. Suppan intentionally walks Shawn Green to load the bases. And then he strikes out Jose Valentin! That's huge—now there are two outs! But look who's coming up. Endy Chavez steps to the plate. How many more signs could there be of impending baseball disaster? Maybe a black cat crossing the field, or a fan touching a playable foul ball. But we aren't the Cubs, and Chavez swings at the first pitch and pops it up for the last out! Wow! What a job by Sup! Hmm...that didn't go according to the doomsday script in my head. From that point on, I stopped thinking about when we were going to lose, and instead just watched the game moment by moment. (This of course meant that I was perfectly set up to be crushed, but I was no longer thinking in those terms.)

Two more innings of scoreless baseball. So it's 1-1 going into the 9th. What an advantage for the Mets to be at home. But of course they earned this advantage.

The Mets don't bring in Wagner, instead leaving in Aaron Heilman. Edmonds strikes out, but Rolen gets on with a hit. Alright, man on first. Yadi's been hitting pretty well, maybe he can get on. Let's get a little rally going...see if we can push a run across. And then a moment nobody expected. An enduring image that will be passed down from generation to generation of Cardinal fans.


To me, it looks like a fly ball. And there's Chavez running after it again; I'm certainly not going to get my hopes up this time. But he runs out of room and turns around! OMIGOSH!! It's GONE!!! Yadi!!!!! I scream in disbelief. But if I was shocked, Shea Stadium was all the more. Yadi hops around the bases with childlike glee in the middle of the stunned silence.

The word "unbelievable" is overused in sports. However, it lends itself well to this situation, because even as I watch our .216 regular-season hitter make his home run trot, I still have trouble accepting what just occurred. It's so crazy—does this mean we're really going to win this series? At the same time, it's so ridiculous that it seems to increase the probability of more improbability. Indeed, if Yadi can hit a go-ahead game seven 9th inning homer, certainly it is unsafe to assume the loaded Mets lineup will go down without a whimper. Boy I wish we were the home team.

The next two Cardinals get out, but they don't matter. We need three outs. Here we go, bottom of the ninth. Wainwright gets the ball, and the game is in his hands. Uh-oh, base hit. That's all right, the double play is in order. Another hit. Heh-heh, OK...great. In steps the gimpy Cliff Floyd. He's a big slugger who is hurt. He has played very little this series. He limps to the plate representing the winning run. Obviously my mind is not the only one that has a flash of Kirk Gibson. [In fact, in his blog, Floyd admits he was thinking along these lines.] But Wainy gets him looking on a big curveball! OK, so at least it's not a Kirk Gibson moment.

Wainwright seems to have regained his command a bit. After a ball, he gets a called strike on Jose Reyes, and then Reyes fouls off consecutive pitches. Then he hits a liner...but Jimmy is there for the out! OK, two down!

In steps Paul Lo Duca. You know what that means, Carlos Beltran (certified Cardinal killer) is waiting on deck. We have got to get this guy right here right now. But after a ball and a strike, Wainwright throws a ball to make it 2-1. Then another ball. This is not good. He's going to have something really good to hit now.

No. Ball four. Here comes Beltran with the bases loaded. Part of me thinks as a general sports fan: "This is we go." But most of me thinks as a Cardinal fan: "HOW THE %@#* CAN YOU WALK LO DUCA TO LOAD THE BASES FOR BELTRAN?!??!!!!"

This is it. A base hit ties it. A homer wins it Aaron Boone style. Maybe we should just intentionally walk in a run and face the guy on deck with a 2-1 lead. OK, not really, because then Wainwright would probably unintentionally walk the next 2 guys or something. Besides, Delgado is on deck, and he has 3 homers this series also. Yadi comes out to chat. It's the "Oh crap" chat. I mean, what do you say? "You shouldn't have walked that other guy." Anyway, Yadi's back in position and here we go.

First pitch: nice breaking ball for a strike. Well that looked good. Then he fouls the next pitch off near his hands. Wow, strike 2! Well, this is the best position to be in. Now maybe waste a couple to see if he'll chase. Here's the 0-2...

I watch the pitch leave his hand. It's like a Bugs Bunny curveball. In my split second thoughts, I see that it's not what Beltran was looking for...he's not going to be able to swing...THAT BALL IS DROPPING...THAT IS OVER THE PLATE!!! Right down the middle. The ump gesticulates wildly and Yadi starts jumping around. OMIGOSH!!! HE STRUCK OUT BELTRAN!!! WE'RE GOING TO THE SERIES!!!!

What an improbable ride. Forget what experts predicted, I myself didn't really believe the Cards would pull this off in New York. The team celebrates on the field, and I bask at home with Christine. Suppan is named MVP, which I wouldn't have thought of, but upon hearing the announcement I realize that he's the obvious choice. Then Nana calls and it hits me. It's not just the Cards going to the World Series...I'M going to the World Series!!! It's overwhelming. This is crazy! The dream continues...

Series Commentary
Though there were a couple of blowouts each way in St. Louis, this series was so tight that even the cumulative series score kept going back and forth. The Mets won game one 2-0, and so when the Cards won game two 9-6, the Cards took the cumulative series lead 9-8. After the game 3 shutout, it was 14-8 Cards. The game 4 barrage put the Mets up 20-19. Game 5's Weaver-Glavine duel put the Cards back on top 23-22. The Mets regained the cumulative lead 26-25 in game 6. And after Beltran was caught looking, the Cards won the cumulative score 28-27.

You can't stop him, but you can contain him
Carols Beltran has killed Cardinals pitching in the postseason, there's no doubt about it. He has played 14 playoff games against us, both seven-game NCLSes: in '04 when he was with the Astros, and this year. And he has 18 hits, including 7 homers, and has scored 20 runs! But in the most important stat, the Cards have his number: Series Result. Indeed in the Tony LaRussa era, the Cards have played in six NLCSes and have lost four of them. It's obviously not Beltran's fault, but when he's not on the opposition, the Cards lose the NLCS. When he is, the Cards win. Thus despite his stats, I will always have fond memories of Beltran. (Particularly that last pitch.)

No rest for the weary underdogs
At some point, my basking melts into pondering the World Series. Here we are again as we were in '04. We've got only one day off and we have to travel to play destiny's darling. Does the NL really have a chance? At least last year it was the Astros who played the role of the AL's punching bag, or else the Cards would appear to be heading toward the Buffalo Bills club.
But you never know. Certainly I've lost my fan's right to openly doubt after this NLCS... Next to

Little Boy's Dream


Past Decade

Pennant Race



World Series